Wed, Mar 24, 2010 - Page 3 News List

EPA finds 28 out of 50 former factory sites to be polluted

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) confirmed yesterday that in addition to land owned by the Formosa Petrochemical Plant in Renwu (仁武), Kaohsiung County, 28 out of 50 former factory sites it tested recently around the nation were found to be contaminated.

Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德), executive secretary of the EPA’s soil and groundwater remediation fund management board, said it selected 50 factories last year that had ceased operations, including former steel, electroplating, leather, wood processing and electronics plants.

The administration confirmed that 28 of them were polluted, with either the soil or underground water contaminated by heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons.

Some of the listed companies are publicly traded firms.

Tsai said nine of the sites were located in Taoyuan County, Taipei County, Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County. The remaining sites were in Tainan County, Taipei City, Taichung County, Tainan County, Tainan City and Pingtung County.

Tsai said that the administration had turned the list of factories over to local governments, asking them to monitor the pollution and take necessary measures to prevent it spreading.

Concern about land pollution increased after a story in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Sunday that detailed how the EPA inspected the soil and the underground water at Formosa Petrochemical Plant in Renwu (仁武) last year and found both to contain chemical compounds at levels that exceeded EPA standards.

The EPA results showed that levels of 1,2-dichloroethane, believed to be a carcinogen, were 30,000 times higher than the government standard.

Tsai said that the EPA investigation confirmed the Renwu site was contaminated.

“We sampled underground water at locations near the chemical storage tanks and the waste water management facilities and found that pollutants were absorbed undiluted into the soil,” Tsai said.

Tsai said that Formosa did try to reinforce the structure of the wastewater pit in 2006 though that work was not completed. It reported the pit was built in the 1970s and it had discovered cracks.

While Formosa claimed that land pollution was confined to the Renwu site, Tsai said that the EPA would carry out an investigation to determine if this was true.

“Based on Article 15 of the Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act (土污法), the administration can order a company to completely or partially stop operations only if the company fails to mitigate the damage or halt the spread of pollutants,” Tsai said, adding that the company has yet to do this.

Kaohsiung County Government has the right to file lawsuits against Formosa if it deems the company to have endangered public safety.

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